Moving To Canada? 6 Essential Services You Can Do On Day One
Moving to Canada or any new country can be very confusing, stressful and at times even frustrating.
If you are looking for professional advice on moving to Canada and what visa options are available check out It’s Canada Time.
We made the big move to Vancouver in March 2016.
When you arrive at the airport for the first time and go through the border security, you are issued with Work Permit.
This document is very important! You need it to open up a bank account and get a SIN number. So don’t loose this 🙂
FYI we created a group on Facebook called Moving To Vancouver(click here to join).
Planning to move to Canada on a working holiday visa?
Make sure to read our 15 Things You Need To Know About A Working Holiday Visa In Canada.
Update: We have just finished our guide on moving to Vancouver and cover 50 things you need to know before moving to Vancouver.
Six services you can do on day 1 after moving to Canada:
1. Find suitable accommodation:
If you have friends or family members here who you can stay with it make your move much easier and smoother.
If you are in the same situation as us where you have to count on yourself than is best to have something arranged before your arrival. At least for a week or two.
We’ve spent a LOT of time trying to find accommodation in Canada.
Finding a place isn’t always easy, and depending on your budget, it might be stressful to get the right place.
To start with we went with Airbnb and found a one-bedroom downtown apartment for CAD$2000 a month (and booked it for six weeks).
It’s wise to shop around and ask for deals or discounts on longer term rental. If you are planning on renting through Airbnb, make sure to ask for month+ accommodation as you will normally get a better price for it.
Couchsurfing is also very popular here, and it’s a great way to meet the locals and find out about everything you need to know when arriving at the Country.
If you have not used Airbnb before you can sign up here with our link and get CAD$50 towards your first stay.
2. Get a SIM card for your phone:
Google maps become your best friend after moving to Canada.
The least fun part of finding yourself in a new place is not knowing where to go or how to get back home.
Getting a SIM card is essential. You should organise it as soon as your jet lag wears off.
Make sure your mobile phone is unlocked.
There are several providers that you can go with.
Here in Vancouver, we checked three different services:
Bell(expensive) where you can go prepaid, basic plan or share plan.
The important thing to note for all providers is that you pay less if you come with your phone instead of getting a new one in the store and that all phones are locked (unless you buy one in Apple or Samsung store).
Bell does have excellent phone coverage, and if you are planning on moving a lot, it’s a great way of keeping same phone number instead of switching every time you move (different cities have different codes). They do different plans, but basic package starts with $45 but with very little data.
With Fido for $45, you get one gig of data (usually 500 megs but when we were there they had a special deal on) 500 minutes and unlimited messages and international text messages.
Wind Mobile(now called Freedom Mobile) does the most of the data plans, and for $40 you also get unlimited Canada calls and Worldwide texts as well as 3-5 gig data.
With all providers, you get monthly billing and can cancel your plan anytime. Think of them as rolling contracts.
Our advice is to check and compare few out before deciding which mobile company to go with.
3. Get a bank account:
There are so many banks in the CBD that you can pick and choose from. The ones that we were recommended are TD Bank, Tangerine Bank, and Scotia Bank.
*Update after six months with TD we moved to CIBC and got a year free fees with them. So technically we got one and a half years no bank fees. #winning
We went with TD as they have no bank charges for the first six months and the bank account is very simple to set up. All you need is your passport and work permit.
Typically a few minutes later you are issued with account and debit bank card to use immediately.
You have to book an appointment to chat with one of their consultants.
If you are lucky, enough you can get the appointment on the same day.
Most bank cards do not have your name on the actual card.
If you do require one, you need a permanent address where the card can be issued to you (takes about two weeks).
To set up an account in Tangerine Bank you must have either Canadian ID or another bank account in Canada to prove your identity. Although this might change depending on when you arrive.
This bank won’t charge you for a year similar to Scotia Bank.
Again the best option is to go to few of them check out their offers and special deals they might have at the time.
You can find out more about the best way to money transfer reading the International Money Transfer Guide.
We have also created this guide on the cheapest way to send money to Canada from abroad.
4. Get a SIN number:
SIN or Social Insurance Number– a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits.
To apply for it, you need your passport along with work permit and is valid for the length of your permit (you can, however, extend it if your circumstances change).
To obtain it go to Service Canada Office.
You can see where the nearest one is here. It only takes about 30 minutes to get, depends on how many people are waiting before you.
It doesn’t take long and worth just doing it as soon as you can after moving to Canada.
5. Apply for a BCID(or ID card)
BC ID card (applies to British Columbia and can be different for other states), issued to you via post.
Takes about two weeks for to be delivered. Well worth getting!
To get it you need to go to ICBC Centre with passport, work permit, SIN Number and permanent address. The fee currently is $35 for BC ID.
This card is very useful as many places do not accept Ids from foreign countries.
A lot of bars and clubs require one even two forms of ID and carrying your passport on a night out is just asking for trouble 🙂
To find out more about BCID go to ICBC or click here.
6 Start the job hunting:
Moving to Canada will have different job opportunities depending on what state you go to.
It didn’t take us long to find a job here in Vancouver.
The first place we emailed I got a phone call and two stage interview.
Ended up getting my dream job. #winningagain 😀
Our best advice is to ask around.
Sign up for as many Canada Facebook groups as possible.
Email or call as soon as something suitable comes up.
We have just finished our article on how to send money to Canada. It will save you a LOT of money in bank charges.
Also, don’t forget about recruitment agencies within your area and make sure to have your LinkedIn profile updated.
We wish you the best of luck with moving to Canada.
Be sure to read our guide on 50 things you need to know before moving to Vancouver.
If you still do not have any visa check out It’s Canada Time for some professional advice.
Have you moved to Canada? Share your story with us and we might feature it on our blog. Contact us here.